Around Here: Christmas 12/23-26

Saturday, December 31, 2022

  A glimpse into the magic of Christmastime in our family of eight with a brand new puppy! 

Intentional Outdoor Hours: 739+ hours (of 1000)
Nothing like a new puppy to push the outdoor time. Osa does good outside on her own, but she loves when we go out with her and run around to play. I spent some time on Monday with her and her dog cousin Lady at my parents' house. Lady is the sweetest, most patient pupper and she played with Osa, zooming all around her. They were so cute together! 

Reading Where the Forest Meets the Stars by Glendy Vanderah which was a borrow from my student Ruby, but with the celebrations, I only got a little bit of reading in these few days.

My favorite part of any holiday - but especially the last two weeks of the year is the food and the company. So brace yourself, there's quite a bit of mention of foods and merrymaking in the next two Around here posts. Am I a food blogger now? haha, but for real. 

Waiting out the artic blast. It was below zero with wind chill making it feel negative 20 or less. The wind wasn't even going in any direction specifically, it was just swirling around in every direction. We lost power for two hours on Friday and our house got down to 64 degrees while my head was still wet from a shower (!) Right at the moment that I was starting to get a little panicked about it getting any colder in the house, the electric kicked back on. I don't know who was out working in those conditions to get the wires working again but THANK YOU! Our power was spotty for the next few hours but just flickering and nothing that knocked us out long term again. 

Christmas cookie baking: We finished up with Old Time Gingerbread cookies (Olive and Gemma helped) and Peppermint Blondies bars. We also chocolate dipped the candied oranges (took 24+ hours to fully dry before we could sugarcoat and choco dip!)

Grateful for this farm Dadda (my handsome husband) who replenished frozen water multiple times a day during the artic blast. He stuffed the chicken coop and goat house with extra straw and pine chips. He checked on all the animals frequently to make sure they were warm and safe and made safe space for the dogs to go outside without slipping on the ice. He and Grey took a trial run down the driveway with the truck before we left to make sure we'd be able to get back up before we loaded everyone up. They did make it back up the driveway in the truck while the rest of the kids and I watched and cheered from the window. So thankful to have you next to me in our wild life B - always willing to do the really sucky jobs to make sure we are all cared for and safe. 

New Puppy training. Lots of accidents in the house, but Osa is working on it and we are giving her plenty of outside opportunities and praise when she goes to the bathroom outside. We haven't quite figured out the sleeping arrangements either because she cries if she's in her crate. B slept downstairs with her on Christmas eve and then the kids sleep downstairs every other night during for now she's fine - but come back-to-school we are going to have to have another plan. 

Mimi's Christmas on the eve of Christmas eve. Kuma and Mimi made three different kinds of lasagna (traditional, veggie, and gluten-free!), we had meatballs, pierogies, and a huge delicious salad. Cousin Tausha made Christmas margaritas and there was cookies and nut & poppyseed roll to our hearts' content. The kids went in birth order to open their gifts from Mimi and then Tausha set up the cup game to play with all the cousins. It was a freezing artic blast outside, but how the inside of Mimi's house was warm with love and laughter. How lucky we are to have our Mimi. 

Christmas eve mass at St David's at 4:30p. Everyone got dressed up and I was able to have all three girls matchies! Bless them for humoring me. I straightened Violet's and Gemma's hair and did similar hairstyles for them. Red wasn't crazy about wearing jeans but he agreed only because Santa was coming that night. Abba and Chum met us at church and thankfully we sat way at the back since Olive and Red were antsy-pantsy and needed plenty of space to move around. Olive may have been licking the stain glass door in the back - thankfully she didn't freeze her tongue to the metal in A Christmas Story style (!!) We sang Silent Night holding candles with all the lights off and the kids were enchanted and it was beautiful and worth all the madness that comes with having two toddlers in church.

Delivering cookies & Christmas lights thank yous. After mass we made our stops through the neighborhood so the kids could deliver their annual thank you cards to houses with beautiful holiday displays. We had a Grinch house this year (the Grinch was 'taking the lights off' the house)! We also dropped off some cookies and our Christmas card to our four closest neighbors too. 

Christmas Eve party at our house. We warned everyone that 4wheel drive was going to be necessary to make it up our driveway (LOL) and that was true but even still we had everyone show up to enjoy the magical evening! Besides the food that B and I made for the night (see below), Heather brought a beautiful and delicious charcuterie from Wild Forage Boards, my mom brought pasta salad, Pappy made bacon wrapped teenie weenies, Kuma brought pineapple bake, and Brandon mixed up Tipsy Rudolph cocktails (and mocktails for the kids). The kids all ran around and played, stopping only to ask Echo where Santa was on the Norad tracker. I got our matching jammies and didn't even have them wrapped (hah #momfail). Abba read The Night Before Christmas to the kids as is tradition and by 9p everyone started to give hugs goodbye and goodnight so that Santa wouldn't pass us up. It seems like a lot of host Christmas eve with a house full of kids - but honestly, it helps wear them out so they fall asleep! Thanks to all the family, friends, and neighbors who helped us count down those last hours before the big guy arrives! 

Santa prep. B and I had another 2:30a bedtime on Christmas eve as we made preparations for Santa to arrive. Had some wrapping and assembling to do, but mostly just organizing and pulling packages from all the hidden places they were throughout the house/garage/truck. Imagine the two of us at 1a struggling to carry in the basketball hoop from the truck bed to the dining room. It had a big sticker on it that said "4 person carry" LOL. We managed with lots of a pauses for breaks for me and a few curse words to get it in though.

Our Christmas morning! Gem was up by 5:30a and agreed to play in her room with Violet and Olive until 6a to wake up the boys. By 5:50a, they could wait no longer - so B started the coffee while we let Osa out and then let the kids filter down from their perch on the steps; littlest to oldest to see what Santa brought. The kids were all happy and grateful. They love opening each others' secret santa gifts and we leave all the wrapping paper in a big mess on the floor until the very end. The dogs lay in fluff piles gnawing on bones and trying to steal the kids' toys. The tv has a youtube fireplace with Christmas music playing and everyone eats their weight in candy and cookies all morning. It is wonderfully chaotic and makes all the madness leading up to it worth it. 

Tinseling hair. The girls got a hair tinsel set (my ninth grade students helped me purchase the right one - thanks Ava and Olivia!) It was pretty easy once I did a few and the girls look so cute and festive.

So tired. So, so tired. Maybe some of the most Christmas tired I've ever been! I think having six kids (two of them toddlers) and a full time job, and a new really pushed us over the edge. B and I went back to sleep on Christmas morning for two hours while the kids played because EXHAUSTION. 

Gigi & Pappy's Christmas for lunch on Christmas day. Gigi made her coleslaw (I love it so much), ham, lazy day cabbage, broccoli and cheese, and homemade rolls. Everything was delicious and Mimi came down to spend the afternoon with us too. The kids loved all their gifts, sang Happy Birthday to Jesus, and I got the greatest motherhood gift of all - a nap! Hahaha, I was so exhausted and went to lay down on the downstairs couch and went on to sleep for TWO HOURS! So I missed most of Christmas day, but I know the kids had an awesome time and I am so grateful for the rest. 

Abba & Chum's Christmas for lunch on the 26th. Abba and Chum made spaghetti, meatballs, salad, and garlic bread. My sisters and their fellas were there along with my sweetie pie nephews and Lady pup and Osa pup. It was a full, boisterous, wild house - my favorite kind of house! We opened presents in a blur of wrapping paper, played a bunch of random, hilarious competitions (potato poop relay, candle blowing, dare challenges) and we even sang the 12 days of Christmas together! We sang Happy Birthday to Bryan, got to visit with cousin Becca, John, and Little J while they were in town from Florida, and even got to spend some time outside with the puppers. It was the perfect last celebration for the holiday. 

Updating my new planner. Favorite pre-new year activity! I transferred over birthdays and anniversaries. Added any appointments that we have upcoming (dentist, well checks, etc). I used the school calendar to mark off early dismissals and Act 80 days. And I looked ahead at all the beautiful, wonderful potential the upcoming year has to offer in all those clean, gorgeous month pages. When people ask how I manage a family of 8 with two full-time working parents, kids in lots of activities, meal-planning, and usually coaching or volunteering during sports seasons...the answer is my planner. Honestly, one of my most prized possessions and I keep them over the years in my memory boxes. I don't journal - but these are sort of like a journal filled to the brim with little notes, reminders, beautiful quotes that I find, and things that were important during this part of our life. 

Making a Tavern ham in the crockpot, kielbasa/white cheddar/cranberry bites, roasted brussels sprouts, and fiesta ranch dip with broccoli, cucumbers, and cherry tomatoes (Rust and Violet cut up the veggies) for Christmas eve at our house. We ate lots of leftovers in an attempt to clear out the fridge and most of us had the majority of our daily nutritional intake coming from cookies if I'm being honest. 

It was another wild, chaotic, beautiful, magical, and hectic Christmas season. And honestly, I wouldn't want it any other way. I will never complain about having places to visit with people who love us, feed us, laugh with us, and show up with hugs for us. I hope you and your family were surrounded by love and care, that you were warm and safe in the weather, and that you found magic tucked into the hustle and bustle of the season. 

Around Here: Week 51: 12/18-22

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

This is it parents- the week we train for all year! Let's do this magical performance fueled by Christmas spirit, caffeine, and an obscene amount of cookies! 

taken at 2:30am when I woke up on the couch still in my work clothes - LOL

our classroom door decoration for the theme: Christmas villain 

Intentional Outdoor Hours: 538+ minutes (of 1000)
Any time earned this week was from hiking up the driveway or trying to get cars pulled out of ditches!

Reading Worlds of Ink and Shadow by Lena Coakley, Jujutsu Kaisen Volume 0 by Gege Akutami (Manga borrow from my student Faith), and I started Where the Forest Meets the Stars by Glendy Vanderah (a borrow from my student Ruby!) 

Smiling at the kids in the church Christmas pageant. We had an angel (Rusty), a donkey (Vi), a communion server (Gemma), and Joseph (Grey)! That morning as I was waking Grey up I said, "Wake up Joseph! Your wife is pregnant and you need a place to sleep!" (which was his line in the show, hah). The pageant was precious and I got to sit next to my sister Kitty who came to watch the kids with us. Reddy and Liv were fairly good during mass, but that's because they played under the pews and made funny faces at the people sitting around us. As always, thanks to our church community who offer us patience and grace with very antsy pantsy and vocal toddlers. 

Mailing our Christmas cards (finally!) Sorry it took so long, but we're coming in hot this year - hah! I got them all addressed on Sunday and then didn't buy stamps until Tuesday (!)

Dress up week. Good grief. We had pajama day (all schools), reindeer day (elem)/grinch(middle)/tinsel(high), snowman (elem)/ugly sweater (middle/high), and red&green (elem)/santa(middle)/flannel(high). It's been a hectic week. 

Packing up teacher gifts for the kids - we handed out farm fresh eggs! We retrieved as many eggs as were available this week and I made up sticky labels on Canva to attach to the cartons. 

So proud of Gem who has been diligently (endlessly) practicing her trumpet piece for the Christmas breakfast concert at school this week. She has been working so hard and it definitely shows in her ability. I am requesting her to play at our Christmas eve merrymaking evening. 

Christmas Cookie Baking - this week we made chocolate & peppermint cookies (Grey helped), peanut butter chocolate covered balls (at Brandon's request), and candied oranges (my first time making!)

smh at Olive because she is out of her toddler mind right now. Wrecking everything, taking all her clothes and diaper off, putting miles worth of toilet paper into the toilet and dragging it all over the house, drinking out of the dogs' water bowls, and stealing the big kids' slime and then affixing it to herself and the couches and carpets. #sendhelp Brandon took her to run errands just the two of them because I was like, "I cannot get a single thing accomplished with this child in the house!?!"

Wonky sleep schedule. We rush around all day, then pass out on the couch at 9:30p only to wake up at 2am or 3am to finish up (dishwasher, tidying, elf) and then move to our bed. It's bizarre and annoying but we're making it work because our batteries die out and there's nothing we can do about it - HAH! 

Sister wrapping night. I send all my kids' gifts to Kitty's house because they are snoopers. So bless her and her delivery man. Then her and Uch help wrap all the gifts and it is the sweetest and most helpful Christmas I get each year! (love you, thank you!) We wrapped and talked and enjoyed potato soup (yum, kitty!) and laughed until 11p. So grateful for the help with this huge task but most of all thankful for the time and company. xxox scf.

Struggling with our driveway. Lucille couldn't make it up the driveway and has been parked at the bottom since early in the week. Thankfully we got Sheila back and she was able to get up until Thursday after school when we got stuck perpendicular to the driveway. Poor Miss Emma had to walk down the driveway to get to her car (which also didn't make it up that AM) because we had no car to drive her down (B was picking up the new pup). My BIL Kevin was the hero of the afternoon when he pulled me up out of the hillside and to the garage for the upcoming artic blast. Ughhhh, this driveway.

Giving Miss Emma a big hug as we won't see her for a few days for her holiday break. She was the sweetest; baking and decorating sugar cookies with the three babies. Oh, Miss Emma - we are so blessed by you! 

Thankful for sweet students and their families that thought of me when buying holiday gifts for me. Since I'm not a core subject teacher and especially since I'm at the high school level - I never expect gifts from students. But I was lucky to get lots of little treats this year. A candied chocolate apple from Olivia, a whole tub of chocolate covered treats from Madeline, homemade cookies from Emma, a bag of Lindt chocolate from Miguel, an adorable jingle bell tree to decorate my desk from Courtney, peppermint hand lotion and a peppermint candle from Kelci, a candy cane of candy from Chloe, and a homemade card from Julie. 

Bringing home our new puppy! We named her Osa (it means bear in Spanish) and she is a Great Pyrenees from Iron Hawk Farm. She is just the most darling, fluffiest sweetpie we ever did see. The kids had not even an inkling of a dog being on our radar so they were shocked and it was love at first sight. Our other two dogs are doing pretty well with the addition. Bullet is protective and watchful over her and she wants to play with him so much ("Play with me grandpa!") while Trixie is mostly ignoring her and asking us for a billion snuggles. We have a few weeks of puppy dog house training (good grief), but the plan is to have her sleep in the house until the Spring but spend her days with the goats & birds because eventually she will be a full time farm guardian dog. 

Teaching and holding on for dear life because this week is crazy. The only crazier week in the school year is the last week of school. The students are all amped up on Christmas candy and wishes of snow days and lots and lots of dress up days. Spanish 1 worked on finishing their capibara projects, Spanish 2 picked the winner in the Holiday commercial contest (this one from Amazon Prime), and Spanish 3/4 finished up their novel La Llorona reading chapters 11-14. We had just enough time to learn about Caga Tio too, and we got him out and beat him with the stick and sang until he pooped us out some candy (LOL). We had a virtual day on Friday due to the artic blast (40+ miles an hour and wind chill advisory). 

Sporting with two basketball practices and two basketball games for Grey. Luckily they were both home games so we were able to watch him. He kept his wrist taped this week, mostly for the support - but it has been feeling better each day just still kind of weak. Thankful for all the family and friends who come to watch the game and help us occupy kids and toddlers! B had a basketball game with his team on Sunday night and won. He is loving playing with the same guys he used to play against in high school. 

Making creamy baked chicken over rice, air fryer salmon and asparagus, cheesy beef sheet pan quesadillas (Rusty helped), Swedish meatballs in the crockpot over noodles, and Pioneer Woman skillet lasagna. This week is so tough figuring out what to eat because you don't want overdo it knowing what the holiday will bring...also, so many cookies.